Nov 02, 2023 - Sale 2651

Sale 2651 - Lot 232

Price Realized: $ 75,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 40,000 - $ 60,000
Relics (Speakeasy Corner).

Drypoint, 1928. 300x250 mm; 11 3/4x9 3/4 inches, full margins. Edition of 111. Signed in pencil, lower right. A brilliant, luminous impression of this important print with richly-inked, velvety burr.

According to McCarron, the location of this scene is at the intersection of Charles Street and West Fourth Street in Greenwich Village. The location of the speakeasy alluded to in Lewis' title was on the ground floor of the building across the street in the upper left, a space that was later occupied by Camilla's Village Garden restaurant. Kennedy Galleries, the artist's New York representative for most of his career, changed Lewis' (1880-1962) title to Relics, possibly in an attempt to tone down the subject.

McCarron also notes, "Part of the appeal of this print lies in its central composition, a centrifugal arrangement of abjects around the axis created by the two girls on the corner. This arrangement is unique in Lewis's printed oeuvre. There are similarities between this print and Edward Hopper's 1921 Night Shadows, which also shows an aerial view of a city at night."

Among Lewis' most masterful prints are those depicting scenes of New York City life. These prints have historical interest, as the imagery captures the architecture and urban scenery of the time, while simultaneously incorporating ephemeral moments. The time of day, the weather, the lighting, the viewpoint— each aspect was important and added to the atmosphere of the scene. Lewis' use of shadows and light to create mood, life and movement is most powerful in his New York prints. Relics is his most celebrated etching, incorporating all of the aspects that make his prints such cherished glimpses into New York's bustling yester-year, while simultaneously capturing the timelessness of city life.

This was Lewis' most popular print during his lifetime too. He sold out the entire intended edition of 100 soon after its completion, and it remains one of his most sought after prints today. McCarron 74.